Queen Anne’s Bounty

fastroping-s“Not everyone embraced the revolution. The Jersey Potato Growers Association was deeply opposed to collectivisation and many tax exiles lost out when the banks were turned into building societies. Powerful interests here on the island support the counter-revolution.“

“Well stuff ‘em. We’re back,” growled Kike la Berserker.

Ripples across the surface of their soup were the first indication that something unusual was occurring. That and the plaster shaking free from the ceiling.

“Up top, quick,” ordered Mother Superior as she bolted for the door. Out in the open, tiles were sliding off roofs, several windows had shattered and nuns were doubled over, covering their ears or vomiting. A vast dark shape blotted out the sun. Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp’s gigantic black dirigible was drifting above the chimneystacks of the fortified nunnery. His papal death’s head insignia leered down from the bows, huge jolly roger ensigns cracked and boomed as they fluttered in the breeze and the combat speaker arrays of the Queen Anne’s Bounty blared out Leonard Coen’s Hallelujah at a destructive volume. Suddenly the music stopped and the silence was deafening. No bird sang, no sheep bleated, even the chundering nuns puked soundlessly. The leviathan’s motorjets roared short bursts as she manoeuvred into the wind and hung in the sky like a storm cloud, crackling with latent power. Then mooring lines were dropped. Pirates swarmed down the ropes and quickly began tying the free ends to anything that looked as if it could hold. Several ill chosen saplings were uprooted and a milk float dragged through a hedge before the airship was firmly tethered. Iron spikes like giant tent pegs were sledge hammered into the ground to supplement the moorings, bow and stern lines, fore and aft springs.

Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp appeared in the Queen Anne’s ventral hangar bay and strode over to one of the ropes. He grasped it in is gauntleted right hand, wrapped a leg round the line and began a rapid, elegantly executed and decidedly swashbuckling abseil.

“Bona dia compañeros! Madonna, how be your murderous chicklings? Signora Starcluster and The Kittens, what a company. And who be the dusky one-eyed temptress?” The captain always had a soft spot for a woman in an eye patch.

He landed nimbly, despite his bulk, and bounded over with arms spread wide in anticipation of an embrace.

“You’re looking well, captain,” said Mother Superior, “this is Mrs King; she has the ear of the Merovingian Lizard Lords and has offered to serve in our cause.”

“Kushti!” Rotskagg slapped Augusta on the back. She staggered, but did not fall. He beamed.

“Will you join us for lunch, captain?” the nun continued, “it is cabbage soup with rye cobs and a glass of skimmed goats milk.”

The pirate king, frowning, whipped out his iPhone. “A victory meal on me, I think.” He speed dialled his head chef. “Silver, dinner for a couple of dozen down here. ASAP, please. And rum, I be developing a thirst.”

Within a startlingly short space of time a heavy ornithopter shuttle was fluttering down from the dirigible. Corsairs erected trestle tables and laid out place settings. A conspicuously gay, peg-legged cook with a parrot perched on his shoulder bowed as steaming salvers were unloaded from the shuttle.

“For your delectation today we have Banker à l’Orange, Venture Capitalist en Croute & Bishops in Blankets all served with chips or mash, seasonal veg and grog gravy. Thar be whortleberry crumble with lumpy custard to follow, so leave a little room. Enjoy.”

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